As your due date approaches, you may be wondering about naturally inducing labor. Self-induced labor is common among women whose due date is nearing or may have already passed. Induction of labor should never be attempted (unless there is a medical reason) before 38 weeks. You should also make sure your care provider approves your attempts. Once you have the go-ahead from your physician or care provider, you can try these methods.
Your care provider has medical induction techniques if your baby needs to be born for medical reasons. Medical reasons include going post-dates, gestational diabetes, preecclampsia and other complications. The four common medical induction techniques are pitocin, cervical ripening agents, inserting a foley catheter into the cervix and amniotomy or artificially rupturing the membranes. All of these techniques carry risks you should go over with your care provider. At the same time, you may also want to discuss how to naturally induce labor - he or she may suggest additional techniques that aren't listed here.
If there's not a medical reason to induce labor but you have gone beyond your due date, there are many natural ways you can try on your own or with your partner, or for which you can ask for assistance. These can be performed at home, when you're relaxed and ready, and will help you have a better overall childbirth experience. Inducing labor at home is a low-stress way to begin the birthing process.
In any case, since the methods listed below are natural - and many of the activities are fun - they are often much less stressful on your body and mind than the medical induction techniques. Again, don't forget to check with your doctor first! Then you can feel comfortable about trying any of these ways to go into labor.
- Sex. If you want to know how to induce labor naturally and enjoyably, you can't go wrong with sex! This is the most well-known induction technique because it works the best. Semen contains natural prostaglandins (cervical ripening agents) that can help your cervix ripen. In addition, these activities are relaxing, and relaxation is one of the easiest methods of natural labor induction. You may have to use some imagination, as most women are very uncomfortable having sex during the last stages of pregnancy, but the effort might have you meeting your baby sooner rather than later.
- Movement. Movement such as walking, skipping, lunging, swimming or swinging (on a park swing) can help. It is believed these activities help the baby rotate into a good position for childbirth. Taking a bumpy car or train ride - but not too bumpy! - also has the same advantages and is one of the most common methods to self induce labor.
- Relax. If you're wondering how to go into labor, this is really the simplest way. The more you stop obsessing over when your baby is coming, the more likely the process will start. Labor will not begin in a stressed body.
- Foods. Everyone has a favorite food that they claim will start labor. Spicy foods like pizza or sausage can help, but only because they irritate the bowels. Personally, I do not recommend this method because it can cause heartburn, cramping and diarrhea and who wants those things when labor begins? If you're looking for ways to induce labor at home, there are many easier, more pleasant methods you can try.
- Fruit. Tropical fruit like pineapple, mango and kiwi actually contain an enzyme that may help tone your cervix. This fruit will probably not start labor, though with a toned cervix, early labor may go a little faster.
- Talk to Your Baby. Some cultures believe that babies that have not been welcomed will not come into the world. It sounds silly, but talking to your baby and making them feel welcome may bring on labor.
- Acupressure and Chiropractics. Some acupressure and chiropractic techniques can start labor. Talk to your care provider, friends or check the internet to find a practitioner in your area. It's crucial that you find one with experience and who knows how to induce labor safely.
- Castor Oil. Castor oil is an old technique that is not recommended anymore. It does the same thing spicy foods do -- it irritates the bowels. It can also cause nausea and is pretty disgusting to ingest. In addition, castor oil rarely works.
- Herbal Supplements. Herbal supplements like evening primrose oil (EPO), black and blue cohosh, red raspberry leaf tea and nettle tea are not recommended unless you have the permission of an herbalist or your care provider. Dosages for these supplements have not been determined, and taking too much can cause serious complications, including death, for your baby. When my friends ask me how to induce labor at home, I never recommend these methods.